Economics

Benny Becker/ WMMT

Derek Akal, 22, grew up in the famed coalfields of Harlan County, Kentucky. He’s a bit over six feet tall, he’s black, and he has an athlete’s build. Neat curls of black hair rise off the top of his head, and on his chin, he keeps a closely-trimmed mustache and goatee.

I first interviewed Derek in October 2016. At that time, he said he was trying to become a Kentucky state trooper, but also making plans to move to Texas to work on an oil rig. 


Rick Perry at Longview Power Plant
Glynis Board

Energy Secretary Rick Perry toured a modern and relatively clean coal-fired power plant in West Virginia in order to tout the benefits of coal in a competitive energy market. But the secretary’s comments generated some controversy.

Working With Addiction: A Popsicle Plant Helps To Lick The Opioid Crisis

Jul 3, 2017
Ziegenfelder employee Sonny Baxter helps coach workers with addiction.
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Budget Saver twin popsicle on a hot summer day, you can thank the employees of the Ziegenfelder frozen treat factory in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Floor operator Sonny Baxter keeps the line of popsicles going in the cherry-scented worksite.

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

Short term coal production in West Virginia is likely to increase, according to a report released by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Those short term gains won't off set overall production declines in the industry.

The annual report published by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research is titled "Coal Production in West Virginia." It sets out both long term and short term outlooks in the industry.

Drill cuttings dumped at West Virginia landfill.
Bill Hughes

There are lots of federal regulations governing what businesses can legally dump into water, the ground, or release into the air. But the gas industry is getting around a lot of those regulations. The oil and gas industry enjoys exemptions from seven federal laws, including one that is supposed to protect human health from the hazards of waste disposal. Other states have passed their own laws regulating this waste to compensate. But it’s a looser system in West Virginia.

Dan Nelant, President of Salem International University
Salem International University

While the Higher Education Policy Commission is increasing tuition for in-state students at state schools around West Virginia by as much as 10 percent, officials at Salem International University, a private institution, announced a new college affordability initiative this week at their campus in Harrison County. The initiative would effectively cut students’ tuition by half or more.

Union Workers at Kroger Ratify New Deal

Nov 4, 2014
kroger.com

Union workers at Kroger stores in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia have ratified a new three-year contract.

United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 says in a news release that the contract includes wage increases and preserves workers' health and retirement benefits. Workers' health care premiums won't increase.

The contract ratified Monday covers 4,000 workers. It will expire on Oct. 7, 2017. 

Money, Cash
2bgr8 / Deviantart

 Two West Virginia companies are receiving $1.3 million in state loans to expand their businesses.

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority approved the loans this month.

Pietro Fiorentini USA is getting a $1 million loan for equipment at a planned manufacturing operation in the Wheeling area. The Italy-based company manufactures and assembles gas production accessories, like valves, vessels and regulators. The company aims to employ 31 workers after one year and 41 after three.

PBS NewsHour/Sam Weber

We often hear about urban cities, like Detroit, that are dealing with abandoned, dilapidated buildings. But some communities in West Virginia are struggling with neighborhood blight too.

The WV Hub is working with partners across West Virginia to plan a three day event in Huntington this October. The summit will help people across West Virginia who are working to fix blighted, abandoned and dilapidated properties. Civic groups in Huntington have been collaborating on this type of work and have made great strides recently.

A new documentary takes viewers around the globe to show how economic freedom empowers entrepreneurs to improve their lives and their communities. Economic Freedom in Action: Changing Lives premieres January 30 at 9 p.m. on WV PBS.2.

Martin Valent/WV Legislature Office of Public Information

In his fourth State of the State address, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin touted his administration's accomplishments over the past year, including multiple multi-million dollar investments made by some major international corporations in the final months of 2012.

But his main focus was moving the state forward, his goals for the upcoming legislative session, and, perhaps most importantly, his thoughts on how to accomplish those goals in an obviously tight budget year.

“Governing, like gardening, takes planning, patience and foresight,” Tomblin began.